Monday, March 23, 2009

Twins Are Creepy

I can say that twins are creepy because my Grandpa is one.
Once when I was little, at a big family reunion, I ran up to my grandpa's twin and hugged him around his legs. When he looked down at me and I realized it wasn't my Gramps, I quickly let go and ran away because, although they are identical, the my Grandpa's eyes are warmer than his twin's. It was like meeting his doppelganger.
This is unfair- my Grandpa's twin is a marvelous man.
I'm just being dramatic.
Anyway, the subject of twins came up after I read an article about an operatic adaptation of the book,"The Silent Twins," by Marjorie Wallace.
The book is now atop my reading list.
June and Jennifer were twins who, after experiencing extreme torment in kindergarten, made a pact to stop talking. They alienated themselves from their brother, sister, and parents- they never spoke. However, their mother knew that they could speak because she would overhear them playing with their dolls and narrating out loud in a fast-pace, high-frequency conversational style.
On the twins' birthday one year, their mother gave them a red leather diary with a lock on it and they both began dedicated journals with detailed accounts of their lives and relationship with the other twin.
The two were sent to a psychologist who noticed that June would glare at Jennifer in a way that seemed to be controlling her speech and movement. But there was nothing they could do to help the twins come out of their exclusive bubble of a universe.
When the twins hit their teen years, they became sexual deviants and repeatedly-offending vandals.
They were caught and sent to a psychiatric hospital for 10 years- until they were almost 30 years old. During this time, their journaling turned into fiction writing and, while institutionalized, each twin got a book published. Their diaries give dark accounts of their parasitic relationship. They began to believe that they could not live healthy lives while both alive- one of them would have to die to set the other free.
The night they were released from the institution, Jennifer got sick and died of an inflamed heart. There was no outside influence or illness. Her heart simply gave out.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

ode to the second day of spring

honey dusted desert
musty sage sprig scattered
in royal purple wildly
dripped plains painted
bright and big and it is spring

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Please Consider on Your Afternoon Walk Home...

Looking Across the Fields and Watching the Birds Fly
by Wallace Stevens

Among the more irritating minor ideas
Of Mr. Homburg during his visits home
To Concord, at the edge of things, was this:

To think away the grass, the trees, the clouds,
Not to transform them into other things,
Is only what the sun does every day,

Until we say to ourselves that there may be
A pensive nature, a mechanical
And slightly detestable operandum, free

From man's ghost, larger and yet a little like,
Without his literature and without his gods . . .
No doubt we live beyond ourselves in air,

In an element that does not do for us,
so well, that which we do for ourselves, too big,
A thing not planned for imagery or belief,

Not one of the masculine myths we used to make,
A transparency through which the swallow weaves,
Without any form or any sense of form,

What we know in what we see, what we feel in what
We hear, what we are, beyond mystic disputation,
In the tumult of integrations out of the sky,

And what we think, a breathing like the wind,
A moving part of a motion, a discovery
Part of a discovery, a change part of a change,

A sharing of color and being part of it.
The afternoon is visibly a source,
Too wide, too irised, to be more than calm,

Too much like thinking to be less than thought,
Obscurest parent, obscurest patriarch,
A daily majesty of meditation,

That comes and goes in silences of its own.
We think, then as the sun shines or does not.
We think as wind skitters on a pond in a field

Or we put mantles on our words because
The same wind, rising and rising, makes a sound
Like the last muting of winter as it ends.

A new scholar replacing an older one reflects
A moment on this fantasia. He seeks
For a human that can be accounted for.

The spirit comes from the body of the world,
Or so Mr. Homburg thought: the body of a world
Whose blunt laws make an affectation of mind,

The mannerism of nature caught in a glass
And there become a spirit's mannerism,
A glass aswarm with things going as far as they can.

A Mysterious Tale of Two Lovers

About a year ago, I was reading the Los Angeles Times and I stumbled across an article that has held my interest since. Many of you may know about the mysterious suicides of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, and if you do, it's likely that it perplexed and saddened you.
Suicide is a subject that shakes humans to the core because it signifies the failure of the human race. We talk of a "will to live," but what happens when that dissolves in a person? It's really scary to me.
I had planned on writing my own article on these two fallen artists, but instead I find myself emoting onto my computer screen. I want to tell their story, from the little speculation I can speculate upon, but it's very sad. Maybe I shouldn't be listening to Bonnie "Prince" Billy right now...

I'll summarize Theresa and Jeremy's story the best I can.

Theresa Duncan was a small-town girl turned political pop-culture feminist. It's rumored she met Jeremy Blake at a Fugazi concert. She was 7 years older than him, and they fell deeply in love. Jeremy Blake was an artist who, most notably, did the artwork for the cover of Beck's album "Sea-Change" and the psychadelic effects in "Punch-Drunk Love." I really love his art.
As the two rose together through the ranks of the high art world, Theresa was repeatedly let down with the rising and falling of a film project she desperately wanted to conceive of: a film about two prep school girls that kidnap a rock star.
Jeremy Blake, from what I can surmise, felt her disappointment even more thoroughly than Theresa. The two just seemed that entwined with one another.
After Jeremy did the cover for Beck, they said that they were going to help Beck leave the Church of Scientology. Then the pair began to tell friends that The Church was trying to sabotage and threaten their careers...and lives. Eventually, their behavior became so paranoid that they made their friends sign loyalty oaths and cut ties with friends they had known for years.
Then they moved to nyc from venice, ca. Those who knew them say that the two held bohemian dinner parties with good whisky, intelligent and witty conversation, and that things seemed to be normal again. But once in a while, their paranoia would become invigorated and friends would receive long emails detailing the events that caused so much suspicion in the two.
Then one day, Jeremy Blake came home and found Theresa Duncan dead on their bed, her hand up to her slightly smiling face. Next to her, a glass of champagne and bottles of Tylenol pm and Benadryl.
A week later, a woman saw a man walk into the ocean and disappear. Police found Jeremy's clothes on the sand, with a note written on the back of a business card:
"I am going to be with my lovely Theresa."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

King of Kong

I was talking to my coworker and friend at work when I suddenly, out of the overgrown recesses of my brain, began proselytizing to her about the 2007 documentary "The King of Kong." As I retold her the plot of the film, my initial passion for this tale of good vs evil came spitting out of me- I kind of scared myself.

"King of Kong" is about good ol'boy Steve Weibe, a nobody in the world of gaming, going up against 80s Donkey Kong veteran Billy Mitchell, aka King of the Dipshits. Steve Weibe is humble, married, has two little daughters, and a history of failure. Billy Mitchell is a patriotic tie-wearing, hot sauce manufacturing, hot wife-having restaurant owner that has held the highest score in Donkey Kong for over 20 years.

The two go head to head in a competition for the top Donkey Kong score in the world.
Billy plays kinda dirty and the footage ends, much to my chagrin, with him winning. Before the credits rolled, though, the directors inserted an update reporting that, after they ceased filming, Steve Weibe gained the top score! YAY!

The documentary portrays Billy as a jerk with a gaggle of lackeys who do his jerky bidding. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Steve as the underdog; he was laid of of his job and spent all his time perfecting his Donkey Kong skills.

After retelling this story, I did a little "where are they now" research and came across an interview with Billy Mitchell that makes him seem a little less jerky.

Then I asked myself:

Why do I, or we as culture for that matter, root for those with unusually low self-esteem (Steve) versus those with absurdly high opinions of themselves (Billy)?

Is it like a mother's instinct to shelter the weakest of her young? Or does our Judeo-Christian culture place a high premium on suffering rather than happiness? Maybe we are threatened by the power of an ego that can't be defeated...

I'm tellin' ya, peeps- that "King of Kong" is right up there next to "Chinatown" in the realm of deep thought provocation.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

David Lynch, Aphex Twin, and a Brief Enlightenment

Maybe it was all the pot and Aphex Twin, but I once experienced a brief enlightenment.
I was living with my old roommate, a fiercely intelligent poetess and Yale Alumni, and having a pretty great time in life. I was 19, working a couple days a week, and had a much nicer car than I do now. Go figure.
My roommate thought it was time for her to start my cultural education in the right direction. With "Twin Peaks."
So began my love affair with David Lynch...

Cut to another time during that period (it's all a little hazy):
I am at the dentist, flipping through some stupid magazine, and I come across an article written by David Lynch about what he calls the "Unified Field."
I showed it to my roommate and we were instantly stunned. It made so much sense. Finally! A God we could believe in- Space!

Cut to a few days later:
I am on my way to work, nothing bothers me, and I understand without a doubt that I am filled with endless potential for deep happiness.
My bottomless enthusiasm for life lasted a couple days. And- before you have a chance to think it, I'm gonna write it!
I sound a little crazy.
But it happened.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Augmented Reality

Last night a friend came over for dinner. She's kind of a computer nerd, which I really admire because I know so little about computers and the endless possibilities they contain.

After a couple bottles of wine, I was in the mood to do a little "show and tell" (an absolutely humiliating tendency I have when drunk that is akin to a toddler's showing all their toys to you). I brought out my stereoscope- an 1840s invention by which one may view parallel photographs as 3D- and my friend was pretty impressed.

Then came her turn to show and tell- and hers was fancy!

She introduced me to this thing called "Augmented Reality." Honestly, it's a little scary. Basically, we went to GE's website and printed out a symbol associated with their new Smart Grid plan.

After updating some much needed new software to my MacBook, GE's site was able to open my computer's video camera and, after a disclaimer that said we might be recorded (holy big brother!), we held up the printed symbol which, when recognized by the site, set off a 3D graphic image of a smart grid. So, in the video projected in front of you (I'm really bad at describing this) it appears as though you are holding a mini-smart grid image.

And when you blow into the microphone, the wind turbines spin. Crazy.

I think what struck me the most about this whole experience is how seeped in advertising it is. I am now much more acquainted with GE than ever before because I have engaged with their freaky website special.
And they might have recorded it.

In the future, says my friend, our phones will have the same recognition systems that, when passing by a restaurant, will cause a 3D pop-up of the specials du jour! Complete with images and everything!

Maybe I'm just a rube, but I'd rather just put dusty old pictures in my stereoscope.

Wrestling with "The Wrestler"

Amidst of all the hype for Mickey Rourke and The Wrestler, I am pretty sure that I'm utterly alone in my opinion.
Are there ANY like-minded critics who recognize the problems for women that this film conjers?

First, how many times must one sympathize with dead-beat dads?

The scenes with Mickey Rourke and his onscreen daughter are very touching, but the Ram/ Randy/ the wrestler drops the ball on this burgeoning relationship BIG TIME. However, one is made to feel sorry for HIM.

And why?
Because he has lost his place on the chest-beating, tarzan-hollering patriarchal throne of his glory days?


Also, the viewer is led to believe that the daughter character is a lesbian. I am insulted that the film dares to make the patronizing leap from "girl with daddy issues" to "lesbian." People are not born with daddy issues. People are born gay.

Last, but certainly not least, how many times are female actors going to be lauded for their roles as strippers?

With so few substantial and authentic roles available for actresses, I feel as though the "stripper with a heart of gold" role has been manipulated into being the pinnacle for showcasing female talent.
In film, stripping is not represented as a skill or talent that has gotten women through college.

Instead, our perception of Marisa Tomei's character is dictated by the reactions to those around her-
"poor old stripper- the horny young white guys think she's an old joke."
Are such representations of meathead-mentality fit to guide our sympathies?

As my husband always says: boo-freakin'-hoo, toots.